Sharps Seeking Early Value in NFL Conference Championship Matchups

David Schwab

Monday, January 15, 2018 3:53 PM UTC

Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 3:53 PM UTC

The sharps' early response to the betting lines for Sunday’s NFL conference championship games has been interesting in light of a rare road favorite and a heavy home favorite.

Sunday NFL: Vikings vs. Eagles

Minnesota is living a charmed life right now after getting past New Orleans 29-24 in Sunday’s Divisional Round, thanks to an improbable 61-yard TD catch by Stefon Diggs as time ran out. The Vikings closed as 5.5-point home favorites and they did their best to lose this game after opening a 17-0 halftime lead.

The Eagles closed as 2.5-point home underdogs against Atlanta on Saturday, but behind Nick Foles at quarterback for an injured Carson Wentz, they found a way to grind out a 15-10 victory by stopping the Falcons on fourth-and-goal in the closing seconds.

That kind of high drama for both teams should lend to the excitement of this Sunday’s NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia. Minnesota opened as a 3.5-point road favorite, with the total set rather low at 38 points. The Vikings were one of the best betting teams in the NFL this season at 11-6 ATS, but they have failed to cover in three of their last five games. Philadelphia covered on Saturday for just the second time in its last six games as part of an overall record ATS of 11-6. Head-to-head trends heavily favor the Eagles with a 7-1 run both SU and ATS in their last eight home games against the Vikings.

The spread for this game opened at 4.5 points and some early money from the sharps quickly pushed it down a point. I would expect this current spread to remain steady with a possible half-point move either way. The fact that the early money did go toward the home team points to a closer matchup than initially expected. There is a certain amount of value in a home team when it comes to a game of this magnitude, and the fact Philly is getting points adds even more value to the mix when pondering your NFL picks.

Sunday NFL: Jaguars vs. Patriots

The Jaguars proved that their first victory this season, at Pittsburgh, was not a fluke with Sunday’s wild 45-42 win as seven-point underdogs in the Divisional Round. Jacksonville will now try and earn its first Super Bowl appearance as a 9.5-point road underdog against a dominant New England Patriots team that rolled over Tennessee 35-14 as a 13.5-point home favorite in its Divisional Round matchup Saturday. On the NFL odds board, the total for this Sunday’s AFC Championship Game in Foxborough, Mass., was released at 46.5 points.

Jacksonville has gone 10-8 against the spread this season with identical 5-4 records ATS at home and on the road. It is 4-2 ATS in six games closing as an underdog, and the total has gone over in four of its last six games. New England has been a huge moneymaker for bettors since early October with 12 SU victories in 13 games while going 11-2 ATS. The total has stayed under in nine of those 13 games.

Head-to-head in this matchup, the Patriots have won their last five home games against the Jaguars SU and they are 5-1 ATS in their last six games at home against Jacksonville. The total has stayed under in four of the last six meetings overall.

I would expect to see this spread reach double figures as the week wears on, with the sharps taking the early value in New England at that current 9.5-point spread.

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